Side effects and risks of microdosing

Taking a microdose of psychedelics, means that you are taking a very small amount. This makes it possible to benefit from the advantages of the drug, but that it has no mind-altering effect. For example, microdosing can help to improve your energy levels, enhance your concentration or help you feel more comfortable. However, does taking a small dose also mean that the side effects or risks are very small?

The risks of psychedelics are almost negligible. It’s practically impossible to take a lethal dose of mushrooms, you’d have to consume huge amounts, and that’s never happened. The (presumed) lethal dose of magic mushrooms for humans is estimated at a quantity of mushrooms that equals the body weight of the user.

Research into the side effects and risks of microdosing

Microdosing is increasingly being used to support health. It brings many benefits, but it is also good to consider the possible risks and side effects. Until recently, there was not much data available, but fortunately more and more research is being done on the effects of microdosing.

James Fadiman has spent years collecting data (from 1800 people from 59 different countries) who have sent him their experiences with microdosing. From this information, and from what we know about taking higher doses of psychedelic drugs, we can draw some conclusions, such as: For most people, microdosing is safe.

Taking such a low dose, prevents you from having a bad trip. The dose will not affect your consciousness, in the sense that you will not have hallucinations. Among the people who relayed their experiences to Fadiman, none had suffered a psychosis.

Possible disadvantages of microdosing:

  • Increase in anxiety: If you already suffer from anxiety, you may find that your fears increase. In that case microdosing is not recommended.
  • Fatigue: This occurs especially when microdosing magic mushrooms, which contain psilocybin. This doesn’t always have to be a disadvantage, if you’re microdosing for a better night’s sleep. Optionally, you can choose to take vitamin B12.
  • Stomach complaints/nausea: It is possible that you get nausea or stomach complaints from the use of mushrooms, this goes away after a while.
  • Symptoms in bipolar disorder: During the depressive phase, microdosing was helpful in reducing symptoms. However, people with bipolar disorder advised against use during a manic phase.
  • Color blindness: men who are color blind may experience afterimages or mild hallucinations. This doesn’t have to happen to everyone.
  • Headaches: Microdosing psilocybin “can” cause headaches.

Reasons not to use microdosing

While microdosing is safe for most people, there are certain groups of people who should not be doing it. These are people with certain conditions or when you are on medication.

  • Lithium: if you take lithium carbonate, it is not recommended to microdose with psychedelics. It can be a risk and not enough research has been done on how these substances affect each other.
  • Anxiety disorder: If you already suffer from an anxiety disorder, microdosing can make it worse. Fears may be magnified or you may become more aware of them. In case of depression with anxiety, microdosing can bring relief.
  • Paranoia and suspicion: The symptoms may get worse, but this is very rare.
  • Psychosis: if you have ever had a psychosis or still suffer from one, it is not recommended. A high dose of a psychedelic drug can induce psychosis. This is why microdosing is also not recommended.

You shouldn’t be taking microdoses if you:

  • You are 18 years old or younger
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

Microdosing is also not recommended in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

If you use medication and are unsure about using it in combination, we recommend first contacting your GP.

What do you have to be careful of?

Dosages

The average microdose consists of 10% of a normal amount. This can sometimes be difficult to measure. It therefore happens that someone takes too much in the beginning. You can be bothered by this and it will affect your daily functioning. If you are taking a microdose for the first time, do it on a day off so you can take it easy and feel what it is doing to you.

Effect when using and not using

One of the effects of microdosing, is that you feel good when you take it. For example: depressive symptoms decrease or you have more energy. But if you stop taking the drug (which is recommended to avoid tolerance), your symptoms may come back.

Building tolerance or dependence

There is no real evidence that you can build up tolerance to LSD or psilocybin, but it is assumed that you can. If you are tolerant to the drug, it means that it will have less and less effect. So that can happen if you take it every day or use an ingestion routine for a long time in a row. Another disadvantage is that you would feel dependent on the microdoses, in the sense that you would start to think that without your microdoses you could not feel good or be happy or creative.